Zee Media Bureau
Patna: Voting is underway in Bihar on Thursday for bypolls to 10 Assembly seats. As per reports, there has been low turnout so far with Election Commission officials recording only 27.89 percent polling till 1:00 pm.
Polling has been peaceful so far in all 10 constituencies.
The bypolls are being held in Hajipur, Chapra, Mohiuddinagar, Parbatta, Bhagalpur, Rajnagar(SC), Jale, Mohania(SC), Narkatiaganj and Banka.
The EC has arranged for boats in the flood-affected areas Mohiuddinagar and Parbatta constituencies to ferry voters to the polling stations. Boats were also used to move polling personnel and security forces to their destinations.
Old and young voters were seen walking to the polling booths located in different constituencies, but there was a marked lack of enthusiasm among them.
The bypolls have become crucial in the wake of the regrouped JD(U)-RJD alliance, led by former state chief ministers Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar, taking on the BJP`s “Modi wave” on the 10 Assembly seats.
Apart from helping politicians gauge whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s magic is still working in the state, the by-polls will also ascertain which way the wind is blowing in the state before next year`s Assembly polls.
These will also test whether the experiment of reunion of `mandal forces` represented by Lalu Prasad`s RJD and Nitish Kumar`s JD(U) in company of the Congress has been a success in stopping the BJP juggernaut.
Considering the significance of the by-elections for their political survival, Lalu and Nitish have made several trips to the 10 constituencies.
Though no big leaders from outside the state campaigned for NDA candidates, state BJP leaders with LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan and ally Upendra Kushwaha of the Rashtriya Loktantrik Samata Party criss-crossed the state to drum up support.
Altogether 94 candidates including 5 women are in the fray in today`s bypolls, an Election Commission statement said.
Hajipur has maximum 15 contestants while Banka and Rajnagar (SC) have a minimum of six candidates each.
A total of 26,42,407 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in 2422 booths.
Except for Maoist-hit Hajipur, Parbatta and Banka where voting will take place from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm, in the remaining seven constituencies the duration will be 7:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Additional Director General of Police (headquarters) Gupteshwar Pandey said 1962 police officers along with 6000 personnel drawn from the CRPF, BMP and state police have been deployed to provide security.
He said 40 percent of the district police has also been deployed for the polls.
The campaigning witnessed acrimony between the alliance of the JD(U), RJD and Congress and the NDA combine.
Lalu and Nitish missed no chance to attack Modi for `hoodwinking` voters in the General Elections.
Prasad in particular spit venom against friend-turned foe LJP chief Paswan. He dubbed Paswan a `weather scientist` and `weathercock`. The LJP chief retorted that Prasad was an `expert on jails`.
(With PTI inputs)